Grandma at the Graveside

Driving to graveside with my heart crushed, I didn’t feel the after effects of the tears, but sniffled and wiped my nose. Silent and disbelieving, through the window, I watched the long line of cars proceed ahead. The lead car (the hearse) a few car lengths away. In my mind, I vividly recall every detail. The little blue casket dwarfed inside the giant Baptist Church. Flowers with blue bows, little stuffed lambs, and plastic rattles. A pastor trying to comfort a family stunned by the loss of an infant only a week old. It just couldn’t be, but it was.

He was an angel, here for a short time, but why?….. why?….. It seemed so cruel to watch my sister hold him, rock him, and then cry by his casket. Not just cry, but – rip-your-heart-out and die – despair. A grief that was palpable. The ache I felt is nothing compared to what she feels. I can’t imagine, nor would I want to. Is he in a better place? Well, sure. But why? Why him? Why us? Why do babies have to die? Tears well up and drop because…. I don’t know the answer to that, and I never will. All I can do is be there for her, and be as brave as she is.

We reach the graveyard. Tires crunch on gravel. The day is overcast – of course. There is a tent set up over the grave. It has a green covering to resemble grass – to cover the hole. The chairs face the “grass” covered in velvet cloth. It is the most depressing place I have ever seen. My sister is still with the family car waiting for the casket and has not yet arrived. It is only my brothers and I, with a few friends strolling up. I see Grandma Owens being led to a chair under the tent awning on the first row. It’s hard to look at anyone. I can’t bear to see the bloodshot eyes, and the red noses. The pain, all the more real, when you look in the face of your family. All of us hurting.

Grandma is holding up very well. She sees the flowers set delicately around the graveside. Beautiful sprays of baby’s breath with delicate blooms unfolding love for a little boy we knew for such a short time. I watch as she moves toward the flower spray near the back, to touch, and to feel, and check the tag to see if it’s hers. One second she is there, shuffling toward the buds, the next she is gone. Gone! It all happened so fast, and it took a collective gasp of horror around me to realize……Grandma fell into the baby’s grave! Oh my GOD!

My brother reacted immediately. He jumped up and ran to her. Fearing the worst, a broke hip or arm. He struggled and yanked her tangled legs from the fake green carpet that was now dipped into the grave hole. He tugs her up, shaking his head in disbelief. As shocked and horrified as she is, we quickly realize Grandma is fine. She is not hurt, only embarrassed.

My brother exclaims loudly as he leads her back to her chair, “Grandma! What are you doing? Stay out of that grave! It’s not your time yet.”

Chuckles blow from hands clasped over mouths. Heads, and shoulders shake, because really? Really! That just happened. Grandma took a dive into the grave.

We laughed that day seventeen years ago, a sad day, but we laughed. We still laugh about it. Beneath the tears and the loss, we will always have that memory of Grandma at the graveside.

**This is a true story**

This post brought to you by…

This week’s prompt was to write a short piece in which a character told a joke and a character cried. The piece has to be maximum 600 words and must be able to be read aloud in no more than 3 minutes.

****I have a BUNCH of pictures from today. We had about six inches of snow, plus we had the little girls, and boy did we play. I will post pics this weekend. Happy Friday!****

20 thoughts on “Grandma at the Graveside

  1. I had so many reactions in this post. I was all teary, then my mouth hung open, and then I laughed! Poor grandma, it’s nice that you can look back on such a horrible day and have something of humor to make it less painful!

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  2. Is this really a true story??!! I was all sad reading it but when I came to the part of the grandma falling in the grave, I must admit I smiled, after the first 2 seconds of unbelief! You are good, Angelia!

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  3. OH MY WORD! This was just perfect on so many levels! What powerful imagery! Thanks for sharing that VERY emotional day with us! My heart was gripped and yet lightened all at the same time. I was NOT expecting THAT at all! Great storytelling!

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  4. Oh. EM. GEEEEEE…
    You know, this started out so painful…not the writing…the writing was equisite and I felt the pain that you all were going through. Ugh, I cna’t even imagine or want to even imagine something so terrible.
    But the end? The end? I laughed so hard. Poor grandma…you know everything happens for a reason. Maybe the wee little angel had a jokester soul and wanted to make everyone smile.
    Geez…that would be something that I would do.

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  5. Oh that was a little rollercoaster ride, indeed! I was “feelin” the pain, almost to tears (because I’m a sap that way) and then Grandma has me spitting out my coffee. Very well written! I am so sorry for your family’s loss. And I am so happy Grandma was ok. Thanks for sharing this true story. It was one that needed to be shared!

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  6. Is this really true? I recently heard of another story where at a funeral something funny happened. I think, I really do, that God does that on purpose. He chooses the moment when your heart is just going to truly break, the moment where you are going to have that really big cry when the only way you will be able to stop is because you are being rushed to the hospital because you have cried every single ounce of fluid out of your body and you are dehydrated, the EXACT MOMENT where if you don’t laugh you will never ever, ever be able to come back from the place of grief and sorrow that your heart has taken you — then BAM! Something so unbelievable happen, and the ONLY reaction is to laugh. God does that. I really, really believe he does. Because I think it hurts Him too—to see his children so broken.

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  7. That was such a roller coaster of emotion! I was so sad about the baby and then couldn’t help giggling about Grandma falling into the grave! Your brother’s line was the best too.

    Visiting from RDC

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  8. Babies shouldn’t die. It’s the greatest tragedy of all. I’m so sorry this is a true story you are relating to us. But you did so very well.

    Your brother’s quick response to your Grandmother’s fall, both physically and verbally, was amazing!

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  9. What a story! What an emotional roller coaster! What a great comeback by your brother! I am so glad Grandma was okay. Sorry…. I had to laugh at the image in my head of brother pulling her out by her tangled legs. Sorry… don’t mean to disrepect but you gotta admit, that’s a hilarious image.

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  10. I told my husband about your post. I think it is a great compliment to hear that others are talking about your writing!

    I have an award for you at my site! Will be up in a few.

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  11. Oh, this is perfect! I can’t believe it happened, and what better time for a good laugh than when agonizing over such an incredible pain. You brought a lot of emotion into this piece, and I love the contrast between the horrible sadness and the ability to see the funny in the fall.

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